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It’s the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act

February 16, 2011


As the March 23 deadline approaches for a science advisory panel to recommend how the Food and Drug Administration should regulate menthol cigarettes, the biggest menthol maker – Lorillard Inc. – is doing what Big Tobacco usually does: blowing smoke.

Lorillard argues the FDA should take no action to restrict menthol cigarettes such as its Newports. A Lorillard executive even claimed that when Congress granted FDA authority to regulate tobacco in 2009, the purpose was to “create order and supervision of the industry.”


It was to protect public health and especially kids, who the tobacco industry targets because it needs replacement smokers for the hundreds of thousands who die each year. Protecting the public health is a broad mandate—and it includes considering whether menthol increases the number of kids who start smoking and makes it harder for current smokers to quit.

Research that Dr. Gary Giovino, a highly respected tobacco control scientist, presented to the FDA panel in November showed that youth smokers disproportionately smoke menthol compared to other age groups:

As the panel writes its report, Lorillard is warning that strong action would create a black market for menthol cigarettes and lead to chaos “the likes of which we have not seen since prohibition.”

It's all part of Lorillard's aggressive campaign to convince us that what’s good for Lorillard is good for the public. And it’s nothing new – these are the same scare tactics the industry always uses to fight policies that reduce tobacco use.

And it’s exactly why Congress gave the FDA broad authority to regulate the tobacco industry – and to do so in a way that will reduce the number of smokers without creating a black market.